Jessica's Birth Story

A birth story written by Jessica Shell

I was 39 weeks and 4 days when I went to my last OB check up. I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions for the last few weeks, and twice they'd been painful enough where I thought they would turn into real labor, but unfortunately faded out after a couple hours of rest and hydration. My doctor checked my cervix and I was a whopping 1cm dilated, 60% effaced, and 0 station. I went home to nap for my upcoming call shift (I'm a nightshift OB RN at Carson Tahoe). Baby girl was kicking up a storm, but this time I could feel her kicks very powerfully against the front of my abdomen. I knew from my RN experience that she had flipped during my nap and was now OP (occiput posterior), and at 4:05pm I started up what I thought was another few hours of Braxton Hicks contractions. I started timing them anyway and they were consistently 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute. Because they were so close together already and not very painful, I didn't think it was real labor. I texted my husband that we might be in for another "false alarm," and went along with my afternoon. 

For the next few hours the contractions were consistently 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute. While eating dinner, all of a sudden I had an EXTREMELY painful contraction that made me stop mid-conversation, grab my belly, and start crying. The contractions that followed were back to the normal pain level. It was my husband and I's nightly routine for the last 2 weeks to go in our hot tub (only turned up to 99 degrees), for me to stretch and relax and wind-down for bed. This would also usually help my Braxton Hicks contractions go away. I got in the tub and floated on my belly for awhile, hoping to help my little girl flip back to OA (Occiput Anterior) position but she was comfortable where she was at. After 20 minutes or so my husband and I got out of the tub to head upstairs and call it a night. I walked in the house and felt warmth run down my leg. I looked down and suddenly at 9:57pm a huge gush of fluid hit my living room floor! A wave of emotion came over me. "Is this it? Am I ready to meet my sweet girl? My life is about to change forever. I'm in labor!" My husband walked in and with tears in his eyes "Oh my God we're having a baby tonight." We called both sets of parents to let them know the good news.

We went upstairs and I immediately got in the shower. The contractions were now starting to be more painful in my hips and back. I squatted for a while with my hands on the ground and let the hot water run down my back. Contractions were closer now, every 2-3 minutes. I remembered back to my birth class with Danielle that the best thing for your mind and body during labor is to stay in control of your contractions. I wanted to try an unmedicated birth but the pain was getting worse and worse. With every contraction I went through a mantra in my head "relax your shoulders, relax your eyebrows, relax your jaw, deep breath in, exhale out, my baby will be here soon." My husband helped me through every contraction supporting me while I squatted, putting pressure on my lower back while I swayed from side to side bent over our bed, squeezing and shaking my hips, all the right things Danielle had taught him. My contractions were 2.5 minutes apart consistently now and I was starting to shake from the pain. We decided it was time to go to the hospital. Once I sat down in the car the pain really hit me. I turned around and hugged my seat while on my hands and knees, taking deep breaths during the longest 7 minute drive to Renown. We parked, and I waddled the whole way to the OB unit, stopping every 2 minutes to grab my husband during a contraction. The pain was so intense I was trembling. My two hip bones felt like a pistachio being pulled apart, and my lower back was on fire. The time was midnight on November 2nd when we were brought to our room. 

We remembered our code word "Pancakes" which Danielle thought of for when I was being serious about my epidural, and I told my husband that if I was less than 5cm, it was time. My nurse checked my cervix and said I was 3cm, 80% effaced, and 0 station. I turned to my husband and said, "I need some f****** pancakes." We both laughed and asked for the anesthesiologist. My baby's heart rate on the monitor was in the 170's, and my contractions were still every 2 minutes, and my amniotic fluid had now presented with meconium. With my baby at 0 station and OP, I knew she was probably stressed out with her face against my pubic bone. My husband helped me get on my hands and knees on the hospital bed, a position Danielle had taught us to help with "back labor" and hopefully help our baby flip. We watched the monitor as her heart rate started to decrease to the healthy 130's. With about 20 minutes of hip shaking, and lower back pressure thanks to my incredible husband and labor nurse, we were successfully able to get my baby repositioned! Just in time for my epidural.

Once I was comfortably numb from the epidural, my nurse checked my cervix at 12:50am and I had already progressed to 6cm! For the next few hours my nurse and husband helped to rotate me using the peanut ball, and even put me back into hands and knees for a little while. I kept the lights dim, and my monitor volume up to listen to my sweet girl's heartbeat. I put my hand on my belly and soaked in every last kick and punch knowing I would soon have to share her with the world. At 5:30, my nurse came in to rotate me and check my cervix. She pulled back the sheets and to my surprise, looked at me and said "Oh wow, your baby is right there. You're crowning!" I couldn't believe it! The next few minutes were a whirlwind of hospital staff in and out setting up equipment and supplies. My nurse and husband put my legs in the stirrups as my Dr. got ready front and center. The most helpful tip regarding pushing that I learned from Danielle is to not only bear down, but also use your diaphragm and abdominal muscles to push my baby down, while my pelvic floor pushed her out. Thanks to this amazing advice and practice, I was able to bring my sweet love into the world after just 2 pushes! At 5:44am my daughter Summer was born.

The feeling that came over me when she was laid skin to skin on my chest and let out her first cry was something I could have never imagined. My baby girl who had been growing inside me for the last 278 long days was now taking her first deep breaths of the outside world. Tears were flooding from my eyes as I looked up at my husband and said "Look at our baby." She was finally here. We couldn't have asked for a better labor experience, especially for our first child. Everything went so smoothly during delivery, I almost wish I had a little more drama! Fast forward 2 months and our transition to parenthood has been challenging but so rewarding. We love our sweet Summer girl, and will always remember her wonderful birth.